Monday, December 21, 2009

The rise and fall of the gingerbread house

This year we decide to make our gingerbread house from scratch. I found a recipe with directions here. It was a three day process, we did a few things wrong, had trouble getting the roof to stay on...finally it stayed, a bit of a shanty-shack, but still, it resembled a house.

Then it came time to decorate. Let me just say, decorating a gingerbread house with a 4yo and an 18mo is quite a challenge. I often get frustrated because I'm so focused on the finished product, and have to remind myself (over and over) 'it's the journey, not the destination' !!!

Finally we were done, frosting everywhere, craziness, then the roof fell of and the side cracked.

The boys thought it was great and started chanting 'eat it, eat it', so we ate some:) Today, it met it's fate in the bottom of our trash can.... the candy was awful, the frosting yummy, but soooo sweet and the boys wanted to live off of it! Bye, bye Gingerbread house! We will try again next year. If you care to make one, here are a few things I learned-

-cut the front and back wall with the triangle attached, not as separate pieces
-roll it out thinner (especially the roof) and cook longer
-whip the frosting for a very, very long time so it is very stiff
-get a real 'piping bag' and not a ziplock bag (they would not stay sealed)
-decorate with candy you like (assuming you are going to eat it) not cheap drugstore candy
-have fun and don't worry if it doesn't look like all those beautiful gingerbread houses in the Martha Stewart magazine:)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

WIP Wednesday!!

For some reason this photo keeps loading sideways!!!
Everest really wanted in on this photo session!

I love knitting socks, especially kids socks! They go much quicker!

I finally knit a hat for my husband! It reminds me of coffee...

Pj pants for Kylan that ended up way to big...

Holiday gnomes:)
I have a few more started, but crafting with an 18 month old is so challenging. We started these while he was napping, but he takes short naps. He wants everything I have in my hand and likes to attack the sewing machine, my sewing baskets...just don't let him see my tomato pincushion!!! He loves tomatoes and freaks when he sees (and can't have) the pincushion!

Wishing you a warm and peaceful day!

hope for the garden

After a few failed tries to seed the garden beds, I finally got around to start some trays and they are looking good so far:)

A few days ago I managed to garden in the rain with the boys, I wish I would have gotten some pictures of them playing in the mud! We also got a bunch of onion sets in the ground and some garlic.

Bulbs are popping up everywhere!
It's funny that as soon as Winter arrives, Spring is on the mind!

Monday, December 7, 2009

sweater of my dreams...

I just read the story of Yuri's New Sweater on Farmama's Blog, check it out! I don't even know how to spin wool yet, but someday I dream of sheering, processing, spinning, dying and knitting a sweater. It's odd, I have these deep urges to do such things, I don't always understand why, but it just seems amazing to me...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Welcome Winter!

Two days ago all of the trees began dropping their leaves, raining brown and gold. The wind and nights much cooler, we now welcome winter...
How odd it is that when everything else is withering and dieing our Hollyhock
is green and blooming! How long can it last???

We are ready for the storm, said to hit tonight, hoping it will bring much need rain. We have had a couple years of low rainfall & our reservoirs are thirsty. It is amazing (and scary to watch) how much these redwoods bend in the wind, so thin and tall, we are luck to live in the sunny center of a cathedral of trees.

Losing their leaves, they will soon be bare trees covered with deep orange ornaments:)

Just a few leaves left in our mini-vineyard.

2 cords of wood, already seem to be plowing through it!

my sweet helper

My lovely Zinnias, that bloomed forever, look just as beautiful, but in a different way!

*Wishing you warmth*

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

WIP Wednesday!!

It's Work-in-progress Wednesday!
I have some catching up to do, since I haven't posted WIP for the last few weeks-
This first picture is of the sweater vest I was working on when I went out of town. I eventually decided I didn't like the way the yarn looked and tore it out. Something about the sheen of the yarn or something, so I need to find a replacement so I can start over. It's cold outside!

I started some lil socks with this beautiful self-striping yarn. I LOVE the colors and want socks for myself made out of this!!!

And then there are bonnets... I love making these 'Lyra Caps', multiple strands of big fat yarn and big needles make for a very quick project! Kylan really wants one, he picked out brown and orange for his... they are pretty girly, but he's 4, he can get away with it:)

I also made a couple pair of super soft fleece pants for Everest and my cousins little girl. I've had scraps of this fabric for a long time and once made a blanket out of it. Sewing with little ones around is challenging, but I'm hoping to try more often. These pants were so easy and quick to make, and K has a long list of requests!
Christmas is on it's way and I better get knittin'....
Have a beautiful day:)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Persimmon Love-

Everest enjoying a ripe persimmon...
We have two persimmon trees, and they are producing a lot this year! They are the type that you can not eat until they are squish and super sweet. The boys LOVE them and will eat as many as I'll let them.
When I pass the bright orange fruit sitting in my kitchen they always make me think of that scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when the kids go into the room full of trees that grow candy, they look that good! And they are almost as sweet!!!

So far I have made Persimmon Pie which turned out ok, and persimmon bread which turned out quite good. I think the next batch of ripe fruit is going into the dehydrator. The nice things about persimmons is that you can pick a bunch and leave the rest to pick later. They don't seem to ripen on the tree, and take several days inside to get nice and squishy. We have lovely persimmons from October to January:)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Quotable Sunday

"Fear is the great thief of time"
-Kris Carr of CrazySexyCancer,
(I've been watching films on youtube about her, she is amazing and inspiring... cancer survivor and health guru:)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Gratitude for the day

Today was a beautiful, perfect fall day. One of those days where you tell yourself to slow down and actually do! We went to a Henry Cowell State park to walk through the redwoods and then walked over to Roaring Camp Railroads to picnic and feed the ducks. We even got to see two deer, peacefully grazing on the grass in the shade. They were near the tree we picnic at and hung out and ate for a while.

Everest didn't want to be in the stroller, he wanted to walk, most the time holding my hand. He wanted to walk very, very slow...pick up sticks, touch the dirt, sit on every bench we we did. At first I found myself rushing them 'lets finish the hike so we can go feed the ducks', but then realized it's not about where we are going to these little ones, it's about what we are doing right now, in this moment. We slowed down, we had a beautiful day.

This is my favorite willow tree by the pond, we use to picnic here when Everest was a baby, but picnicing near a pond is not very relaxing with a toddler, so our new picnic spot in in a very large grass field by some big piles of dirt and a low, climbable tree.

I am grateful for the day, for my beautiful boys, my hard working husband, and our health. We are so fortunate.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

food budget and frugal links

I originally wanted to post weekly about frugal/simple living/conscious living, something I am striving to balance. Problem is, each post I made (there were 3 of them) ended up being very, VERY long. I then realized that the topic is a blog of it's own that I should not start at the moment. So I just want to share a few links and thought.

The main area I'm working on is our grocery spending. Our budget is quite snug, but that it a trade off I'm happy to work with so that I may stay at home and home school our children, plus at some point my sweet husband will get his next promotion:)

We spend a lot on groceries. We live in a high cost area, we are mainly vegetarian and eat mostly organic. Organic coffee is in the picture too. Not cheap. I have been trying on and off for years to lower our grocery bill... "trying"...but now we have hit a little tighter spot and "trying" is not an option, doing is. So far this month has gone very well. These are the main things that have helped-

-Meal planning dinners
-Grocery shopping once a week
-weekly farmers market, right now prices are good...
-cooking bread, tortillas, baked goods, sweets from scratch
-eating a little less
-using dry goods (beans, grains) to bulk up meals (like add brown rice to our eggs and veggies)
-cut back on coffee, more tea
This weeks dinners-
-homemade pizza and salad
-crock pot chili and cornbread
-root bake
-wheat pasta with pesto, mushrooms, greens
-Polenta eggplant bake (in crock pot)
-bean tacos (homemade tortillas, salsa, avo)
-left overs

It does help that we have a big freezer stock of tomatoes from this summers garden:)

Another world I am trying to get into is coupons. I've never really used them, but am starting to get it.... I have read a lot on Money Saving Mom's blog all about stacking coupons and taking advantage of rewards cards, etc. I love her blog, she post a lot, but I generally don't use 'mainstream' type products and don't eat most food from regular grocery stores, but I still have found some good stuff on her site. She often links to giveaways and free samples.
Alices Kitchen has some good post about eating organic for less and frugal eats that are still healthy.

The Grocery Cart Challenge is a great site, she feeds her family off $60 a week. Her family of 6!!!! She feeds her family pretty good and links menus and recipes, she cooks a lot, they eat some produce and I haven't seen Top Raman on the menu, so it is quite impressive!

For some 'health food' brand coupons, this site has some good ones. Also, a lot of HF companies give coupons on there sites.
Also, for general frugal living topics, I enjoy visiting Mothering's frugal board.

OK, that's enough for now, it is getting long...

Quotable Sunday

A wise old owl sat in an oak tree
The more he heard, the less he spoke
The less he spoke, the more he heard
Why aren't we all like that wise old bird?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Rhythm and Routine

I recently began reading about Waldorf Inspired education/living. One big thing that has helped me immensely is setting up a better rhythm in our home. It is still a work in progress and I always love reading about others household rhythm and routines.
Over at the blog Seasons of Joy, Annette has started a series about her household routine. I really enjoyed the first post and look forward to reading more. If you have blogged about your rhythms please leave a comment with a link and I'll add it to this post:)


I've entered into a few contest on blogs to win things, and this time I was the lucky one:) I won this from A Small Tribe's blog:) She even included a few cute handmade cloth napkins:) Whooo Hooo! I won! Check out the beautiful play space she has for her boys on her blog!! I love it! Thank you Marina at Small Tribe!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My 4 year old...

Now you are 4 years old!
Kylan turned 4 on the 7th. We went to Irvine Park, one of my favorite places to take the kids when we are in Southern California! It is beautiful, cheap, no lines, lots to do! We went on the train, road ponies, hiked around, went on multiple playgrounds, feed ducks in the pond. We saw squirrels, peacocks, had a picnic, and it was a perfect day! There is also a little zoo we didn't make it to this time, but it was so much fun:) Here is Kylan, elated, waiting for the train ride:)

*I am grateful for the day*

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

WIP Wednesday!!

The long lost sock... I made this sock a few years ago and never made a partner, so I think they may become a Christmas present to myself this year:)
Kylans socks, almost done...

And a project for the road. We are leaving this morning to drive down to Southern California to visit our families and to celebrate Kylans 4th Birthday:) I'm hoping I can knit in the car without getting car sick, we'll see:)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Giveaway at Gardenmama

Gardenmama is having a 3 part giveaway, check it out!

Monday, November 2, 2009

homemade tortillas

*Homemade Tortillas*
In a effort to save $, I make our bread and baked goods from scratch. I've made homemade tortillas a few times, they are sooooooooo good! They are a bit time consuming to make, but if your kids are old enough to help, it's fun:)
What I use-
3c flour (white, wheat, or a mix of the two)
1Tbs. baking powder
1tsp salt
3Tbs veggie oil
1c hot water
Mix it all together and form a ball, if you use whole wheat flour you may need to add a little more water. Grab a small ball (maybe a little less then a donut hole) and smooth out a bit in your hand. Roll with a rolling pin on a floured surface until round-ish, flat, and thin.
On an ungreased preheated griddle (I use cast iron/ medium heat) cook the tortilla until bubbles start to form, flip over and briefly cook.
Experiment with the thickness of the tortilla and how well you like it cooked. I was all proud of myself when I could finally get them really thin, but discovered I like them a bit thicker and not too well done:)
Give it a try!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Quotable Sunday

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do, are in harmony.

-Mathatma Gandhi

Sunday, October 25, 2009

garden (neglect)

Since our lovely rain storm, sprouts are popping up all over! I managed to sneak out into the garden briefly before the storm to start some cover crops on a couple beds and seed some lettuce, chard, and kohlrabi. We also seeded the dry dirt patches in front of our house with grass seed. I'm hoping to get out there this week to change a few beds around (we have some temporary brick lined beds), start some more cover crops, plant our garlic and onion sets and transplant our strawberries that apparently prefer pots. I'll also be begging our tomato faeries to help ripen the many green Roma tomatoes hanging plump on the vine!!
On a side note, persimmons are producing in abundance this year, I picked several to see if they are really ready. Tried a sweet but still tannic persimmon today! wow...
scarlet runner beans

spouts poppin' in everywhere!

mint is crazy

hidden mushroom

gourds that I started a bit late

'soil builder' cover crop started in two beds

chard spouts:)

Neglected garden that needs some love and attention asap!

These flowers have been blooming FOREVER, I swear, for like months now! I love zinnias!

grass sprouts in our dirt path